Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Reading Time Well Spent

Here we were again with the constipated fear. It was reading time for both girls, but Beatrice pushed back. Way back.

"I don't want to read right now," Beatrice said, face contorted.

"All right then, let's flip a coin and see who reads first," I said.

"I want heads!" shouted Bryce.

"No, I want heads!" said Bea.

"Bryce called it first, Bea. You get tails."

"Okay. Whoever wins gets to chose."

I flipped. It was heads. Bryce said Bea goes first. Bea said no way.

And so it went. Round and round until Beatrice was near tears from a paralyzing panic attack implosion, and finally Bryce conceded and said she'd read first. Now, Bryce has only just begun learning to read, so we're helping her with the words, but Beatrice is solid reader now. The problem has been that she gets intimidated at the sound of her own voice saying the words out loud and when others are listening. This most likely goes back to her auditory processing disorder (ADP) issues she had early on (which Bryce never had).

At three years old, we discovered she had trouble processing the information she heard in the same way as other kids because her ears and brain didn't play nice together. That in turn affected the way her brain recognized and interpreted sounds and how she reacted to various stimuli -- too much stimuli always overwhelms.

That in turn created anxiety for her, anxiety she had no way to process or express, so it was internalized instead. When pressed, she shuts down and says she doesn't want to do something, and then doesn't do it (just like her dear old daddy unfortunately).

However, she's come a long way from five years ago, that's for sure, but the reading was something we had to tackle head on. We always knew that, even when she's improves year after year, there would potentially be residual effects of ADP long term. School would get progressively harder for her, and she'd have to work harder at building those confidence callouses we all need when it came to reading, writing and communicating, and the speech and occupational therapists have concurred.

Both girls love storytelling and we read together every day. Beatrice actually creates stories all the time, writing them out and illustrating them as well. The Mama and I grew up avid readers, and Bryce now has the fever, so we want to ensure Beatrice perseveres. Plus, she takes the girls every week to our public library to check out a bagful of books, and they also pick out books from their school library. We don't always read verbatim each and every book, but most of them are eaten up like the sweetest of eye candy.

So reading is one of those things we instill in the girls that "isn't a choice" and we've had to press on with her to ensure daily reading. For this I thank the Mama (what I lovingly call my wife), because without her daily persistence in keeping Beatrice completing all her homework, especially the reading, we'd have a much steeper mountain to climb in the years to come. And what's matters the most when it comes to both our girls is their becoming of something better, smarter, stronger and resilient for whatever life throws their way -- and throw things it will, lots of things (damn all those things).

Of course I help, but the Mama is the innovative leader here. She's recently developed a motivating incentive plan for Beatrice when it comes to reading: every minute she reads -- and that means reading anything (books, signs, pamphlets, etc.) -- she gets a star on a reading chart she created.

I don't know what a star's market value is at your house, but at ours, for every 100 stars earned, she gets to pick out a new book. Not a toy or a treat -- a book. And she just earned her first 100 stars this last week! We then went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and she picked out an ocean animals book. Right now we're playing a game where we break into teams, and one team picks an animal from the book, and the other team has to guess what it is from clues. Once guessed, Beatrice reads aloud the description of the animal -- 10 more stars please!

So far, it's definitely reading time well spent.

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